Priest Fined Millions in Molestation Case
Suit: Two San Bernardino Brothers Are Not Likely to Collect What Was Awarded to Them
By Tim Grenda
Press Enterprise [Riverside]
October 17, 2003
San Bernardino — Two San Bernardino brothers who as teens more than 20 years ago were molested by a Catholic priest have been awarded $ 26 million in a verdict on a civil lawsuit, officials said Thursday.
The victims' attorney, however, admits they likely will never see a cent from the priest, Edward Lawrence Ball, 64.
"If tomorrow he wins the lottery, then we could go after the winnings," said Riverside attorney Todd Rash. "As a priest, he has taken a vow of poverty, so it's going to be very hard to collect anything from him. It may be a futile effort."
Rash said he will pursue a lien against Ball's personal assets, including garnishing any wages he receives and against any property he may own.
"This is more of a cathartic thing for the victims, so they can maybe get some closure to this," Rash said of the multi-million-dollar judgment. "It wasn't about the money at all."
The brothers previously received $ 4.2 million from the San Bernardino Catholic Diocese and Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Illinois religious order to which Ball belongs.
That settlement was reached in July, but the victims continued their suit against Ball personally.
When Ball failed to show up for the scheduled start of his trial, Krug presided over a one-day hearing, heard testimony from the victims and imposed the financial judgment.
Ball's attorney quit the case two months ago, just before the priest was released from prison and returned to the Chicago area to live among members of his religious order. He did not return to represent himself in the trial, Rash said.
The amount awarded Wednesday by San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Bob Krug is for the victims' economic losses, pain and suffering and to punish Ball for his actions, Rash said.
Ball could not be reached for comment Thursday.
He served at Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Assumption churches from the late 1970s to mid-1980s, officials said.
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